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Sequester cuts could see some seniors go hungry

PHOENIX — They’ve worked hard their entire lives, but unfortunately for millions of seniors, their golden years are tarnished by poverty.

“We estimate that 8.3 million seniors face the threat of hunger every single day,” said Mary McNamara of Meals on Wheels Association of America. “That number is growing because baby boomers are turning 65 at a rate of about 10,000 per day.”

Across the board sequester cuts have impacted programs like Meals on Wheels, an organization dedicated to feeding the country’s hungry, homebound elderly.

“The sequester that went into effect March 1 was a 5.1 percent cut to Title 3 funding through the Older Americans Act, the primary funding mechanism for Meals on Wheels,” said McNamara.

The percentage represents a $40 million hit to the organization.

“That works out to about $1 million in Arizona,” said McNamara. “The impact can take many forms — we could cut services — but all of them will impact the Arizonan economy.”

While the organization determines where the money will come from, there is a very real possibility that 375,000 meals are at risk here in Arizona.

“Get involved. Contact your local Meals on Wheels program and donate or volunteer. You can also contact your representative and ask them for increase funding for Older Americans funding,” said McNamara.